Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come. John 8:12-20
“If you knew me…” Jesus drops this hint in two settings. Once was to a woman who would, by the end of their conversation, realize that even if she did not know Him very well, He, at least, knew her and that was enough to ignite faith. The other was to the Pharisees, to those who are the archetype of all who are so convinced of their own rightness that no faith is possible. Yet He still drops the hint: “If you knew me…”
How much can change if one knows Him? For the Samaritan woman, knowing Him as one who knew her and yet treated her with kindness and generosity, caused her to abandon her shame and fear of others and go beat on their doors to incite them to come and know Him, too. We don’t know the rest of her story, but it was off in a dramatically new direction. All save one of the disciples, the apostle Paul, Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, the man formerly inhabited by Legion: all of these and many others became acquainted with Jesus in ways that changed them. Some we know better than others, but all of them evidenced that knowing Jesus was transformative. They became new people with new priorities and new boldness and freedom. People who had known them previously were astonished at the difference. Though each had different purposes in Christ, there were common traits among them: eagerness to share their testimony of His love, imitation of His generosity and grace, glad willingness to risk and sacrifice in order to serve the Savior, gratitude for belonging to Him.
The Pharisees had had many encounters with Jesus, but never evidenced the transformation that flowed from relationship with Him. They continued to question Him and His actions at every turn, exalting their ‘rightness’ over Him and anyone else who did not measure up to their standards as the self-declared authorities on who God was. The restraint that Jesus showed in His encounters with them is astonishing to read throughout the Gospels. Again and again, He demonstrated humble confidence and gracious correction with the opportunity to respond. Though a rebuke, His “If you knew me…” was also an invitation to any with a glimmer of humility to pause and reconsider their position. A few did, to their eternal joy. Most did not.
What of us? Do you know Him? Declaring that you do is not the proof. Are you transformed by the living water? Do you carry the common traits of those who know Him: boldness, freedom, generosity, graciousness, glad sacrifice, thanksgiving? If not, hear the words that I believe are key: “If you knew Me…” Come near to know Him.